Sun Safety – A Year ‘Round Safety Suggestion : Parenting Connection
As a staff we are always trying to maintain a comfortable balance between sun safety and the immense need to get our children outside for play and movement. As you well know, our children are not always easily convinced of the critical need to cover adequately. It is essential that we continue this important practice even during the cold months, when the UV rays are equally impactful. We go to great effort to teach our children the importance of full coverage and how to apply sunscreen thoroughly (while offering assistance to children as needed). We encourage our families to advise their children of the importance of sun safety and appreciate the following tips provided by one of our MCS parents.
Utah has the highest melanoma (the most deadly skin cancer) rates in the United States (read detailed article here). Given our altitude, a large number of sunny days, great outdoor activities, and a population with lots of fair-skinned people, we have the perfect storm of skin cancer risk factors.
It is important that our kids spend time outside but careful preparation is a must. Below are some measures that have proven effectiveness at reducing UV exposure and helping to prevent skin cancers:
1. Sunscreen reapplication: Unfortunately, sunscreen only lasts ~80 min before the protective effects diminish significantly, so be sure to reapply frequently.
2. Hats: Because the head and neck region is not covered with clothes it receives much more sun exposure than other parts of the body, leading to a higher proportional rate of skin cancers in this region. Hats are an easy method to reduce sun exposure. Be sure to send a hat to school with your child each day as well as taking one along on all your outings that include outside play.
3. Encourage sun-safe clothing, sunglasses when appropriate.
4. Go the extra mile by being an example; wear a hat when you are outside, apply sunscreen to yourself in your child’s presence, wear sun-appropriate clothing and sunglasses, and talk to your child about sun safety on a regular basis. Children, like the rest of us, are empowered by knowledge.